Friends, raiding in Classic has very little in common with raiding in the present day. There are a lot of differences, so I thought I’d highlight some here. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but I hope it’s helpful anyway.
No cauldrons or feasts.
That’s right. No way to provide buffs for many people. Looks like the current cauldrons require 12 flasks, 3 expulsom and a hydrocore at Rank 3. This, in turn, will grant you a cauldron that lasts for 10 minutes and you can pick up 30 flasks from it. Similarly, I think the feasts these days allow 35 uses. None of this exists in Classic. This is one of the reasons why raiding back in the day was so punishing. Farming up 41 herbs for a single flask (30 of one, 10 of another, 1 Black Lotus, typically) was difficult! And what about food buffs? Bring your own. And, even more, specific elixir buffs? It wasn’t until 2.0, I think, that they limited things to one flask or two elixirs (guardian and battle). You want your mind blown? Check out Taladril’s Complete Consumables List. If something is the same stat (ie: Agility Scroll and Agility Elixir) they usually don’t stack, but there are a ridiculous number of things that do stack. Truly insane. Now imagine that 40 people have to do all of this raid prep to maximize chances for killing things.
That’s right – 40 people.
Most of the raids in Vanilla were 40-man raids. That’s Onyxia, Molten Core, Blackwing Lair, AQ40 (as opposed to AQ20) and Naxxramas. 20-man raids were Zul’Gurub and AQ20 and didn’t come out until later on, but the game launched with Onyxia and Molten Core, both designed for 40 players. That’s 10-12ish healers, 2-5 tanks/off-tanks and 21-28 DPS, depending on your raid makeup. For example, some fights required off-tanks, like Garr (unless you had warlocks to banish mobs) and Majordomo Executus (unless you could sheep most of the adds). Then you have Onyxia which literally required one tank. Back in the day, we were happy to have like, 35 people and we went 8/10 in MC. Very, very poor group makeups, mind you, but we did all right for ourselves, considering we didn’t know anything. Once, we even downed Gehennas with 27 people.
That’s it. No looking for raid. No flex. No regular. No heroic. No mythic. Just one flippin’ difficulty. No difference in loot quality, either. None of this heroic or titanforged nonsense. It was one difficulty and if you were stuck on a boss, BY GOLLY YOU KEPT WORKING ON THAT BOSS. While this relates to Burning Crusade, the same goes for Classic — one of my friends was stuck for more than two months on M’uru, the second-to-last boss in Sunwell Plateau. Actual months. They killed the Eredar Twins on May 20, 2008 and M’uru on July 22. That was 4-5 nights a week for 4 hours at a time. And the same thing goes for Vanilla WoW — there are bosses that you might not be able to get through without more gear, without more people. That’s just how it was. Personally, I enjoyed it and any time Blizzard pulled the goalposts a bit closer to us in future content, I got annoyed.
So, like, really, I don’t know much about how lockouts work now. But back in the day, certain raids reset weekly on Tuesdays (Molten Core, BWL, AQ40, Naxxramas), some reset every five days (Onyxia), some every three days (ZG and AQ20). If you went into an instance and any bosses were down, I believe you were asked if you wanted to save yourself. That said, you were saved as soon as a boss died while you were in the group, so after a kill in a fresh raid, you were saved. And since there’s just the one difficulty, that’s it. If you’re sitting there saved at 8/10 bosses killed in MC, you can’t go into a new MC instance and kill Lucifron and Magmadar. They’re already dead in yours. Gotta wait until next week!
Listen, Jailbreak may be one of the most miserable quests in the entire game, but attuning yourself to instances is not something I disagree with. I hate that we can just ding max level these days and have a specific item level and then we can do something. Attunement to the Core is an easy one — pick up the quest at level 55 outside of BRD, then do all of BRD through the Seven and then, before you go into the Emperor’s section, hang a right and get the piece of rock across the bridge, near the raid instance entrance. Blackwing Lair was pretty easy, you just had to kill Drakkisath in UBRS and touch the orb behind him while you had the quest. I think you had to pay to get into Naxxramas, unless you were exalted (?) with the Argent Dawn. While ZG had no attunement, AQ20 and AQ40 had that whole opening of the AQ gates thing. Now’s your chance to become a Scarab Lord! Aside from that, the kicker was Onyxia. Alliance folks can start in on it at level 50 in Burning Steppes with the Dragonkin Menace quest and it will require A Lot Of Work. (But at least in the patch version we’re getting, anyone on the quest will get the Blood of the Black Dragon Champion to drop off Drakkisath. It used to be individual loot.)
At launch, you could only use 8 debuffs on a target before other debuffs would start to fall off. So you have Sunder Armor, Faerie Fire, Curse of Elements, and anything else that improves other people’s damage and then maybe you could allow a dot to be cast. Warlocks were not brought to raids for their dots. They were brought for their imp buffs, their healthstones, soulstones and banishes. That said, 16 debuffs was the limit in 2005, so that’s what we’re returning to. Still, most dots (Serpent Sting, for example) are probably not going to be used in raid environments.
Mages and druids could decurse. There were a lot of curses going out there in Vanilla raids. As such, even at the expense of their DPS, mages were expected to decurse the crap out of the raid. Druids too, even at the expense of their healing. Same with magic effects and priests and paladins. There are a few fights where this is basically all some people are doing for several minutes.
Similarly, some fights in Classic raids rely entirely on certain people to a) stay alive, b) keep their assigned add under control. On the Garr fight, as I mentioned previously, warlocks were great because they could banish his 8 adds. But, you know, only if you had 8 warlocks. And no one had 8 warlocks. Generally, you’d have 3-4 warlocks and have warriors off-tank the rest. In this fight, the more of his adds died, the strong Garr got. So you’d banish as many as possible (with a voidwalker on them in case the banish broke early) and kill the ones being off-tanked and then turn full DPS on the boss. But throughout the whole fight, warlocks were watching their banished add carefully. Aggro was different then and healing aggro, particularly from squishy priests, was tremendously efficient at getting the attention of mobs.
And speaking of aggro… Hoo boy. One of the reasons that warriors were the “best” tanks in Vanilla is because of their Sunder Armor ability. Sunder not only weakened the armor on the mob, it also generated a ridiculous amount of threat. A mistimed big heal from a priest could result in the priest instantly getting aggro and literally getting one-shot. Got a heal-over-time running, like Rejuvenation, across a couple of people when adds spawn? Dead druid. Paladins didn’t have to worry quite as much, due to wearing plate armor and not having hots, but also because they naturally generate less threat. Finally, Paladins have one of the best raid buffs ever: Greater Blessing of Salvation. Salv is the priority for everyone except the tanks. Then comes Kings, then either Wisdom or Might. (And others, but that’s another blog post.) Kings or Sanctuary, if available, should be the priority buff for tanks. Wait for a minimum of two Sunder Armor applications (also known as “two sunders”) before starting to DPS. Oh, PS: there’s no misdirection or tricks of the trade.
No Mage Tables, no Soulwells.
Yep, that’s right. Line up in front of a mage, who has likely spent an hour before raid conjuring All The Water And Food. And yeah, that’s right, it’s either food or water. You can’t have both in the same conjured item, though you can eat and drink one after the other without interrupting the first. And the warlock’s healthstones? That’s right, each is individually conjured and each costs a Soul Shard. And they’re single-use. As such, healthstones were generally reserved for the tanks. Best to take a healing potion or, yes, bandage if you need health and a healer can’t get to you in a fight.
No limit on potion use.
Well, there was one limit — one per two minutes. But that was it. You could drink more than one potion while in combat. So taking a healing potion didn’t mean you couldn’t use another potion later. However, there weren’t any potions that added X amount of strength or agility or intellect (now known as DPS potions, basically) back then. Still, you can use multiple potions on multiple fights.
Only Druids could battle rez.
Yep, only druids had a battle rez ability, Rebirth. And it required a reagent. And had a 30-minute cooldown. Oh, and to make matters worse? Druids did not have a regular resurrection spell. What’s that? What about soulstones? Sure, you can use them — but the person has to have the soulstone on them before they die. If they don’t have a soulstone on them when they die, you can’t use it the way you can now, by casting it on them.
Paladins had Divine Intervention.
Seriously, one of my favourite spells ever, this instantly kills the paladin and pulls the person on whom you cast it out of combat. They can’t do anything, but they will not be in combat and, once it’s safe, can start rezzing people. This is a form of wipe protection. Some of the run-backs were particularly long, so aim to DI a priest or another paladin if a wipe is called. (Don’t DI a druid unless they are literally the only other person who is even capable of resurrecting someone left.)
Don’t release immediately!
On the topic of dying in a raid, don’t release your spirit unless you’re absolutely certain everyone is dying. Why? Well, for one, you can’t zone back in until combat has ended. Secondly, if, by some miracle, people get the boss down and you’ve already released, you will probably not be eligible for loot. Now, I know they’re keeping the tradeable thing in Classic (which master looters who have previously made mistakes in raids REALLY APPRECIATE just sayin’), but you may not be viewed as being eligible if you released early. That said, if you’re near the start of the instance and it is a wipe, just run back. It’s faster than being the 39th person resurrected.
Okay, that was long! I hope it was helpful, though. Any questions about raiding in Classic/Vanilla? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter!